In the third part of Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan discusses his adventures hunting, gathering, and foraging for food. This section goes into depth of the different subjects including how the human body is made in such a way to feed off the earth, the evolution of American eating, ethics of eating, and his experience cooking his own meal. I was most intrigued by the discussion regarding the American way of eating.
In my family, we sit down together every night for dinner prepared by my mom, in semi homemade cooking style. She might used some canned beans, fresh apples, pasta out of a box, or create a casserole out of fresh onions and cheese. Either way, there was always a mix of fresh ingredients included in with convenience foods. However, as the four children in my family grew up, my mom started to work again. The food was tasty this time around, but very much so compromised.
The food that was now being served had vitamins and minerals infused into them, and a high dose of fats and sugars to keep the consumer hooked. This is the way that Pollan describes the USA’s eats in his section, “America’s National Eating Disorder.”
When this new food was introduced into my family’s diet, the nightly conversation dissipated and family time was severely compromised. These new foods take much of the culture and togetherness out of the family and food equation. Of course, my mother still cooks when she can, but it is a shame to know that for many families, this is an everyday thing.
The fact that convenience is chosen over culture is a big indication of how our society is set up. The United States of America is not deeply rooted in any one culture, and instead adopted an efficiency-based lifestyle. I really enjoy that our culture is an infusion of so many, yet I often feel like it starts to lose its identity. Maybe this is because so many people feel the pressure to assimilate into the “American” way of life. Whatever the reason, it is truly a shame because we have missed out on a lot of exceptional diets.
For example, in France they have a unique way of eating. “They eat small portions and don’t go back for seconds; they don’t snack; they seldom eat alone; and communal meals are long, leisurely affairs” (Pollan, 301).
Americans have been incorrect about food assumptions, which has led to a rejection of a lot of great diets. We often are so caught up in dieting fads that we lose sight of what is healthy and not healthy. In France, they eat fatty foods and live a great life, yet Americans hold on to these myths about fats and carbohydrates, and they are causing a huge gap in our diet. Our face-paced lifestyle is also poor for our health. If we treat food as a sense of enjoyment and community, we will be able to bond together more as a society.
The American food system is very much broken. With education, and taking a few steps back, more and more people are beginning to realize that food is best when it is natural, simple, and shared with the people that you love.